Director – Tony Maylan
Cast – Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Holly Hunter
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
If you know me, you know that I have a strong love for 80’s slasher flicks, as do most horror fanatics. I however, have an even stronger love for 80’s slasher flicks taking place in wooded areas, hence my love for Friday the 13th. The Burning is an underappreciated slasher flick that is just that, a slasher taking place in the woods. Often referred to as a copy of Friday the 13th, this film was actually written BEFORE Friday the 13th, meaning that both of these films were actually written around the same time with basically the same plot, all independent events from each other. Interesting huh?
Because this is an 80s slasher flick, this film’s plot is very simple. A group of campers play a mean prank on a sadistic campground caretaker that ends up with the caretaker horribly disfigured and never heard from again. Little do they know, the caretaker survived and has been recuperating at a burn center for the last five years, until now. Finally released and utterly vengeful, the caretaker, now referred to as “Cropsy”(how awesome is that???), is making his way to the campgrounds to get revenge on the campers that now occupy the site where his life was “scarred”(haha) forever.
This film marks the first production for the landmark producers known as the Weinstein Brothers. Not aware of who they are? Bob and Harvey Weinstein used to run Miramax Films(one of the biggest film companies there is) and now have their own production company, titled The Weinstein Group(they put out Inglourious Basterds earlier this year). In other words, these guys are a big deal. Harvey co-wrote and produced this film with his brother helping in the editorial department, which helped to launch their infamous careers. But wait, there’s more! Jason Alexander, better known as “George Costanza” from “Seinfeld”, made his acting debut in this film, along with Oscar winning actress Holly Hunter. Do I have to keep reminding you that horror films are the ultimate pathways to stardom?
The Burning is the type of slasher film that brings back that classic feel we miss so dearly these days. The cheesy yet funny dialogue, sex, substance abuse, and overall 80s “cheese” make this film a fun watch and one you will not lose interest in. Oh! Did I mention the gore??? This film brings in the iconic horror SFX maestro Tom Savini to handle it’s carnage. Tom Savini actually turned town Friday the 13th Part 2 in order to work on this film, stating that “there is no Jason, I killed him in the first Friday the 13th”. If you’ve ever heard anyone talking about this flick, there is a 90 percent change that person mentioned the “raft scene”, which in my eyes is one of the greatest slasher scenes of all time. Give this film a shot, or Youtube it, you’ll see what I mean(and send Savini a thank you letter).
I really liked the look of “Cropsy” in this film. His long dark cloak and sweet looking hat bring in a menacing look for him, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the character “Darkman”(from the film by the same name) was resembled after this character. You may wonder why he is referred to as “Cropsy”, well it’s a simple reason really. “Cropsy” chooses to kill ass his victims by using a pair of garden shears he used to use while working as the caretaker at the campgrounds. Garden shears = gore. Enough said. Did I mention Tom Savini is behind the gore in this film?
Director Tony Maylam did a swell job with this film, about as good as a director can do with such a film. The flick paces well, the action is good, the actors put on the type of performances you’d want them to put on(for this type of film), and he didn’t stray away from the gore. You should find pleasure in Jason Alexander’s loud-mouthed witty character in this flick as well. It’s just classic to see good ole George Costanza doing his thing, only 40 pounds lighter and without a pastrami and rye in sight.
Overall, this is a fun watch that I recommend to all fans of the slasher genre. It’s got all the right goods, so go out and give this one a watch.